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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Query Details


Query Subject:   Karen Etymology
Author:   Peter Ludlow
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Anthropological Linguistics
Language Family:  Karen


Query:   My nephew has been doing some work in support of the Karen people -- principally, as I understand it, in refuge camps. There seems to be an issue about the entry for the 'Karen people/language' in the New American Oxford Dictionary, which includes this etymological note: ''from Burmese ka-reng 'wild unclean man.'''

Given that the Karen are currently the target of genocide by the Burmese government there is some unhappiness with this entry. My question is, apart from the issue of offense, is this even accurate? That is, is there solid evidence for this etymology?

Here is a link to my nephew's blog post on this: http://jaymilbrandt.com/request-from-the-karen-refugees-change-the-dictionary/

Thanks in advance.
LL Issue: 24.1323
Date posted: 18-Mar-2013



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